Office of Dean


Custom: else...if, Emperor Ai! Pedrito!
Harfology: Blest Lax Monk Pal
History: K 2
Inter Nomic Relations: Studge
Legislation: else...if
Treasure Hunting: A German Dog
Visionary: /dev/joe


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Type: History
Author: breadbox

Elder breadbox received an honarary degree by proposal 4125. A copy of his thesis can be found here.

Type: Inter Nomic Relations
Author: else...if

Joint Frames of Reference in Inter Nomic Relations

by else...if

A Frame of Reference, for the purposes of this paper, is a definition of a number of entities. A Nomic defines a Frame of Reference, since it defines the players and other items created in its rules. Under normal circumstances, Frames of Reference are totally independant--Agora does not recognize anything that exists within Ackanomic. Frames of Reference also exist in the real world, for instance within the Frame of American law, British contracts don't exist without specific provisions within that Frame to recognize British entities.

Those who witnessed the collapse of Internomic(1) recall that it was caused (in part) by a dispute over the identity of the Agoran liaison. Without going into the details, Agora claimed that one player was the Agoran liaison, while Internomic denied that it had been legally changed. Another near scam earlier in Internomic's history was when one person created a number of nomics in which e was the sole player, but with the same names as the members of Internomic, and then claimed they were the real members. Both issues had to do with Joint Frames of Reference.

Unlike a typical nomic, Internomic had to do more than just define a Frame of Reference and things to exist in it. It had to interact with other Nomics, and other Frames. This required agreement between the two nomics on enough information to allow communication. Both nomics had to agree on the other's existance (and which nomic named Agora was the Agora being communicated with), and on a method of contact. In order to do this, a Joint Frame of Reference was established. A Joint Frame is like an airlock between Frames; it enabled communication between two Frames of Reference by enabling each to define a minimum of common terms, but enough to communicate. As long as the Joint Frame remained Joint, there was no problem. The problems arose when the two nomics creating the Joint Frame disagreed; in other words, the Joint Frame collapsed.

The Internomic method of creating a Joint Frame(2) is slightly different than the one used in the Inter-Nomic Treaty Organization(3), and the difference merits notice. Internomic created the Joint Frame by defining a few key terms (for instance, Liaison), a few methods for operating on them (like changing Liaisons) and let each nomic participating "plug in" to the Joint Frame by defining the Joint pieces. This could be called the Shallow method. The important factor is that there is a specific protocol for communication of operations: it is not enough for Agora to change Ambassador, it must also go through a process for Internomic to recognize the change. INTO, by contrast, recognized only nouns and operations on each other directly, not operations on the Joint nouns. A nomic would define its liaison and a few other terms, but instead of defining operations, INTO would determine things not by carefully regulated actions, but by inspecting the nomic's gamestate. This could be called the Deep method. Both methods are problematic. The Shallow method does not allow for unusual situations or nomics which need more operations. If one nomic is unable to communicate to the other what happened, the Frame may need to be fixed legislatively. While these problems make a Shallow Joint Frame difficult to create stably, a perfect (or near-perfect) Joint Frame is probably possible, with sufficiently many and flexible operations to allow for any situations a participant might encounter. Deep Joint Frames are easier to create (just define the nomic as "the one whose rules were the first to be located at <<address>"), but lack a useful property of Shallow Frames--they pass on uncertainties. If a nomic has internal problems (a thread split, the need to undo something which occured two months ago), a Shallow Joint Frame does not "spread" that. A nomic which communicates through a Shallow Frame doesn't care, because either actions did or did not occur under the Joint Frames definitions (the old liaison did or did not send a message saying that the liaison has changed). A Deep Frame spreads the uncertainty: the other nomic has to look at the game state of the troubled nomic, and would, for instance, be split by a thread split. Note that a clause such as "the liaison may only cast a vote in accordance with the rules of the nomic they represent" "deepens" the Frame, since it requires inspection, and could carry thread splits. (This means that Joint Frames are technically more or less Deep, instead of being one or the other.)

To recap, a Shallow Frame protects the nomic on the other side from problems, but risks breaking the Joint Frame, while a Deep Frame carries the problems over, but keeps the two nomics in sync.

One other term is important. A Frame of Reference can be Parent to another Frame of Reference. This means that the Child is defined under the terms of the Parent. This is immensly important because a child Frame is actually a subset of the Parent Frame, and therefore any disputes defer to the Parent Frame, making it impossible for the Frame to break. Technically this is a Joint Frame so Deep that it "swallows" the Child Frame. As an example, the Universe is the Parent (or an ancestor) of every nomic. When a nomic refers to a web address, it is using the Parent Frame. Earlier, when I suggested that a nomic could refer to another one by defining it as "the one whose rules were the first to be located at <<address>", I was suggesting that the nomic refer unambiguously to another nomic by using the Parent Frame to "resolve" the references for it. In fact, Inter Frame connections are impossible unless the two Frames share a Parent at some point (something impossible to avoid with current technology).

The fundemental problem in Inter Nomic relations has to do with the problems inherent to Joint Frames of Reference. I will assume for this discussion that a Joint Frame is either Deep or Shallow; any Joint Frame can be broken up into a set of Frames, each of which is either Deep or Shallow. For instance, between Internomic and Ackanomic, liaisons were controlled by a Shallow frame, while voting was controlled by a Deep frame (since it required inspection).

If, for instance, two nomics exchange entities, and one of them later realizes that the trade was invalid, but the other has a pragmatism clause, problems will ensue. If the Frame is Shallow, the nomics will disagree on whether the trade took place, and the Shallow Frame breaks, since the two nomics can no longer agree on the state of the Joint objects. If the Frame is Deep, the exact wording of the Joint Frame determines what happens, but at the cost of sovereignty.

In effect, a Shallow Frame acts like a fragile plug. It allows things to be communicated, and if pressure is put on it, it breaks. A Deep Frame is more like a door: anything can go in or out, including instability.

Understanding the interactions of Frames can help to create more stable Joint Frames. Part of the problem in Internomic was that its law held that the new Ambassador was also the new liaison. Agora treated the Joint Frame as though it were Deep; if its laws had acknowledged that the Frame was Shallow the problem might have been more easily dealt with.

(1) OFF: Ambassador's Report thread, (Sept. 1998)

(2) Rules of Internomic

(3) Rule 17-1, _The Rules of Ackanomic_ ed. 4189, (Ackanomic Printing Guild:1999)

This thesis was accepted (8-0) and else...if gained a BA in Inter Nomic Relations.

Type: Treasure Hunting
Author: /dev/joe

Why There Are No More Interesting Treasure Hunts

by /dev/joe

At one time, there were quite a few interesting treasure hunts in Ackanomic. In the last year, though, it seems people have needed significant prodding to even attempt to solve treasure hunts. The primary reason this is so is that most of the interesting ideas for treasure hunts have already been done.

Many of the early treasures in Ackanomic asked treasure hunters to perform relatively simple, well-defined tasks. For instance, Treasure 101 [1] asked players to win three different sub-games, each of which had three or more players. At the time, the sub-game system was rather new (this was October 1996) and this was probably intended to prod the system along, both to encourage players to play games and to encourage the creation of more games playable by three or more players. It's not clear how well it accomplished this purpose; it was quite some time before anybody accomplished this feat, despite the introduction of several new games and quite a few instances of the games being played. However, many of the multi-player games take months to play, and as it can get confusing to have multiple instances of the same game in progress, only in a couple instances (Eleusis, Game of Pure Skill) have there been two instances of the same multi-player game in progress at once; three is unheard of. [2] Since this time, the winning-subgames mechanic has been used elsewhere with the rules [3] and as part of another treasure [4] but the idea of making another treasure with just this condition seems passe.

Treasure 102 asked players to submit proposals to define new ways of winning Ackanomic. This was an overwhelmingly successful treasure, in that players continued doing so long after the treasure was found, perhaps to the extent of creating too many ways to win.

Treasure 103 was the first of a long line of encoded treasures. If anything has been overdone in treasures in Ackanomic, encodings have. This first encoding was a relatively tricky one, a book code using proposal numbers and word offsets from either end of the proposal, which also shifted all the proposal numbers by 300 to hide the fact that they were proposal numbers. This took a good three months to be found. Treasure 111 (snowgod's treasure which gave the word "Hubert" its Ackanomic meaning) sparked the series of (mostly much easier) encoded treasures. This treasure's map was simply presented as hexadecimal ASCII, and several players figured it out quickly. Treasure 112 was encoded by obfuscation; what appeared to be a uuencoded file was actually a text message scattered throughout the "encoded" data. Treasures 113, 114, 118, 121, 124, 127, 129, 132, 133, 135, 138, 139, 140, 141, 143, 147, 151, and 155 were other encodings. In general, these were either found very quickly (when they were variations or combinations of "standard" encodings), or tended to stay buried for a very long time. Treasures 121, 129, 133, 135, and 147 have apparently never been decoded, though 129 and 133 were found due to a rule which allowed for an alternate method of finding treasures which have been without map custodians for a long time. Treasures 114, 139, and 141 took three to five weeks to decode, 132 took about two months, 118 took four months, and 155 took over a year. The others in the list above were found within a day or two of being buried. In recent times, there is still the occasional treasure which consists of nothing but an encoded message, but usually now codes are combined with other activities; codes that have been done before are generally too easy to decode, and ones that haven't are generally too difficult.

Treasures 105 and 106 continued the idea in treasures 101 and 102, by asking players to perform various normal game actions (normal, like burying treasure, winning duels, etc., as opposed to solving a puzzle or decoding a message and posting the result). This theme also proves to be an oft-repeated one. This can be thought of as the basis behind the "hidden agenda" concept later implemented as Agenda Hats.

Treasure 107 was the first of a type of treasures I'm calling "collect and win" treasures. This example is actually not typical of the style; finding it required owning trinkets buried in two other treasures. The real prototype for these treasures was the Runestone of Jukkasjarvi, treasure 122. Here, there were a bunch of small puzzles, some of them codes, some puzzles, and some game actions, and each treasure hunter had only knowledge about one or a few fragments until they put their knowledge together. This would probably never have been found had the map custodian not chosen to divulge certain details upon the play of a map shard on the treasure; while it did not really require knowledge of all the pieces and the map shard information, it did require knowledge of most of the pieces and an alternate form of the map shard info which was given as concealed clues in messages which apparently no player ever found until after the treasure was found. This sort of contest did not catch on for a while, perhaps because the Jukkasjarvi one was seen as so hard as to be uninteresting.

Treasures 109 and 110 began another genre of treasures, ones which ask players to perform some significant non-game action. In this case, it was learning the Python language well enough to write interesting programs. I am calling these treasures "personal agenda" treasures; they ask other players to either do something to the buryer's benefit (outside of Ackanomic), or to engage in some activity the buryer enjoys. Treasures 115 and 116 would continue this theme, this time asking players to write self-printing programs in a language created by the buryer. This theme tends to blend in with the puzzle-solving theme which becomes popular later; treasures 115 and 116 can be considered puzzles as much as they are asking players to learn a programming language. Treasure 119 is very much a puzzle. Treasure 120 gets back to the original idea in this theme, in this case, basically setting up an in-game payment for whoever completed a certain bit of out-of-but-related-to-Acka work first. Treasure 125 continues the puzzle theme, and 126 continues to straddle the line between puzzles and personal agendas, asking players to find and post the location of hidden contests in Games Magazine. Treasure 126 would later see a sequel in treasure 181, and the apparent lack of interest in T181 seems to support the idea that repeating old treasure ideas is uninteresting. (T126 may well have generated more interest *outside* Ackanomic than T181 did *inside* it. Eric Berlin, one of the co-authors of the Orion's Crystal story from the April 1997 Games, recently noticed me on the weekly National Puzzlers' League chat, and asked me to explain Ackanomic to him well enough to give him a vague idea how I was using his idea here. I think he was intrigued that anybody else used Orion's Crystal to refer to anything beyond his story.) Treasure 167 was also firmly in this realm; a hard puzzle that really seemed to require some research into past endeavors in that field, though the actual solution seemed to be a new technique. The puzzle-like treasures have proven to be popular, and genuinely new puzzles are likely to be candidates for good new treasures; however, such puzzles are rare and difficult to invent, and as a result, it is not likely that we will see a huge number of these. However, it is entirely possible to do such puzzles outside of Ackanomic; indeed, I have been doing so, and even winning some small (real-world) prizes for doing so. [5]

Treasures 104, 128, and 152 are examples of treasures in perhaps the most boring class of all: those which appear to be intended to remain buried forever. In these cases, no apparent clues about how to find the treasures have come forth.

Treasures 169 and 173 started another series of treasures, which were based on trivia and often quotations from books, movies, song lyrics, etc. Treasures 183, 189, 190, 210, 239, 255, 259 and 274 continue this theme. The problem with these is that they are either too easy, or web-searchable easier than to get them from memory, or if not even web-searchable, so hard that nobody can reasonably be expected to find them.

With the exception of the puzzle theme, most of these themes seem to be already played out to the point of boredom. This is why there are no more interesting treasures these days.

1. Most of the burial announcements and other relevant messages about treasures referenced in this thesis may be found at K 2's Treasure archive, either at if they have been found, or if they have not been found.

2. The histories of subgames can be found at the Ackanomic Subgames page at and the many pages referenced on that page.

3. Rule 8-7, "Le Grand Fromage", awards a gouda for winning Grab A Donkey, Party Chess, or three Games & Contest games with at least five players each.

4. June 9, 1999, in a message from T. T. Ren on the ackanomic list; one of the conditions needed to receive one piece of the map is to win a subgame with at least five players. As of this writing, not on K 2's Treasure page.

5. See and for two such puzzles, and the site as a whole for many puzzles of this type and links to other appropriate sites.

This thesis was accepted (6-1) and /dev/joe gained a BA in Treasure Hunting.

Type: History
Author: else...if

The Birth of a Nomic


There are, as everyone knows, a few large, long-lived nomics. Agora and Ackanomic have lasted for more than five and three years respectively. The Fantasy Rules Committee, although not a nomic by the strictest definition, shares most of its players with the nomic community, and predates even Agora. A few other nomics have lasted more than a year or so, although often with periods of quiescence. Meanwhile an endless string of nomics are being born only to atrophy into non-existance after a few weeks or months. The question occurs then, why do some nomics survive, and how can a successful nomic be founded.

Typically, a nomic is founded when one person decides to create a new nomic, publicizes it, and convinces a few other players to join. Experience shows that the few weeks following this are critical. Usually at this stage the founder takes on the administrative needs of the nomic and players begin to make the proposals which establish a nomic's character. There is a single factor which distinguishes nomics which succeed at this stage from those which fail: the effort of the founder. In many nomics the founder will take days to distribute proposals or voting results; as examples take the Common Law Nomic and the Fantasy Wargame Design Project. In both cases the founder was an experienced nomic player (Scott Goehring and Joel Ricker, Ackanomic's own 404 Not Found, respectively) and in both cases a number of players joined. Neither, however, was able to keep up with the pace of the game. (This should not be taken as a criticism. The needs of a new nomic can be quite time consuming.) These few weeks are the first major hurdle a nomic faces; to a prepared founder, however, they are also the easiest.

A few things mark the transition from an infant nomic to a child. The two most significant are a transition away from dependance on a single player for administrative needs and a (relatively) stabilized set of players. Ackanomic achieved this stage around its second week, with Wayne Sheppard taking over as Tabulator and the last of the first batch of players joining.(1) Not all games achieve this so early. The People's Republic of Macronomic achieved a stable membership quite early but never really made a transition from depending on a single player to handle its harfing. Although a number of players took on minor tasks, only one player was willing to take on the two biggest--rule and proposal harfing. Once a nomic does make the transition it tends to become significantly more stable. Usually such nomics progress steadily for a period; it is the development in this period which determines its eventual survival (or collapse).

Typically after a month or two some of the early players of a nomic begin leaving. This immediately demands that the nomic have more people willing to handle the work (since the founder often leaves, or at least steps down). As players begin to trickle out, both formally and informally, the nomic faces its second major hurdle. Being able to survive the loss of multiple influential players, along with having the energy to survive a crises, is what defines an adult nomic. Ackanomic hit this in mid-March, when a number of players left (killing two of the three political parties), followed promptly by the Quorum Crises.(2) Having survived both of these, Ackanomic had the potential for a long history. Other nomics are not so successful: Pnomic watched its players trickle out one by one until only three remained.

The crucial factor for a nomic to survive into and through adulthood is being able to keep people interested. Interest in a nomic is cyclical: interested player do things like make proposals, harf the game, and perform other actions; when things happen players get interested. Many nomics fall apart when the summer doldrums cause a number of college age players to take a hiatus and noone wants to bother to restart it. Macronomic is a typical example. Ackanomic itself has had several periods like that in its history; several of them have brought nomic quite close to death, once as close as a single vote.(3) Thus far Ackanomic has managed to recover each time; the best explanation is that Ackanomic has a critical mass of players. One of them usually begins making proposals, then another, and so on. Smaller nomics are less likely to have a player attempt to revive it, and it is less likely that the other players will join in.

What lessons can this history give us? Firstly, it is a reminder that when a game does begin to slow, Ackans should take it into their own hands to make proposals and perform actions. Even if the proposals fail, they will help get players thinking about the game. The other lesson is for any players who seek to found new nomics: be ready to invest real time into it to help get it off the ground. If you can't do that, wait until you can or convince someone else to help you.

(1)breadbox, _The History of Ackanomic_ (Ackanomic Press:1998)
(3)else...if, ^Proposal 4161^ (Ackanomic Press:1999)

This thesis was accepted (8-0) and else...if gained a BA in History.

Type: Scamology
Author: Emperor Ai! Pedrito!

Limited Statistical Analysis of Selected Proposals and Results with regard to Scam and Scamology in Ackanomic, Year Four, Months Four through Six

Table of Contents:
Section I Abstract
Section II Introduction
Section III Proposals
Section IV Proposal Data
Section V Voting Data
Section VI Sample Response
Section VII Analysis and Conclusion

I. Abstract

An analysis of the votes and proposal submissions of a convenient sample of 11 players of Ackanomic over a 3 month period. Data includes sample's responses to questionnaire and voting expenditures of sample members, P4153-P4254

II. Introduction

While I must laud the other students and alumni of Ackanomic University, and congratulate them on the veracity and intelligence of their theses, I must also confess a certain apprehension about the scope of these theses. It was obvious that /dev/joe's thesis, while correct in every detail, was unable to go into the minutiae of the specific treasures involved, e.g.: "Treasures 113, 114, 118, 121, 124, 127, 129, 132, 133, 135, 138, 139, 140, 141, 143, 147, 151, and 155 were other encodings." (1) Else...if's theses were more ambitious still, and made broad, sweeping statements such as "There is a single factor which distinguishes nomics which succeed at this stage from those which fail" (2)

I do not presume to argue with my distinguished colleagues about their chosen areas of concentration, nor do I condemn them for attempting such ambitious projects. They are widely acclaimed as masters in their respective fields, and are articulate, analytical writers whose points are undeniably true. However, I felt it would be inappropriate to attempt a full analysis of Scamology in Ackanomic during this stage of my University career.

I therefore restrict my analysis to the scams of the last quarter, that is from April 23 through July 23. To further focus my research, I decided to take as my statistical test subjects the 11 players who responded to my questionnaire on scamology, and to only analyze those scams and scam-related activities that occurred in proposals, since their record is public, clear, and unambiguous. These players are:

404 not found, A German Dog, Blest Lax Monk Pal, /dev/joe, K 2, King Felix, rufus, Slakko, Studge, ThinMan, and Vynd, who I will refer to as subjects A through K, respectively.

This group represents a good sample of Ackanomic's oldest and most active players. Since the survey details were confidential, I can only give a statistical rundown on how players' self-images compared with actual action; I cannot fully explain the consistencies and discrepancies of each. For the remainder of this thesis, I refer to these players as A through K, respectively.

The number of proposals involved, and the difficulty of quantitatively measuring scam means that even this topic is much too broad. I have arbitrarily divided the proposals between 4153 and 4254 into pro-scam, anti-scam, and scam-neutral, according to various basic premises and experiential and empirical knowledge of the field. I attempt in this thesis to perform an in-depth analysis of the statistical data of the proposals in this range, but my analysis cannot begin to approach completeness or even the level of thoroughness that I would like. The rest of the thesis is arranged as follows:

Section III explains the distinction among my three categories and discusses (briefly) my reasons for each choice. Section IV consists of proposal submission data for the players involved, and section V consists of voting data. Section VI focuses on questionnaire results, and Section VII is my analysis of the data and conclusion.

Section III. Proposals

In Ackanomic, scam is a nebulous term, and as such is difficult to pin down or define absolutely. However, often there is consensus on which acts and proposals were scammy or scam-oriented. I call those proposals pro-scam which, acknowledged at the time or not, were conducive to acts of a scammy nature. I call proposals which consciously reduced the probability of scammy acts to a significant degree anti-scam, and call those proposals which were neither pro-scam nor anti-scam, scam-neutral. Many scam-neutral proposals have some effect on scam; the designation Scam-Neutral merely means that their positive effect is small and their negative effect, if any, is unintentional.

Many proposals in Ackanomic can be divided into a few basic types:

Fixes: These are proposals that eliminate holes or inconsistencies in the rules. They are generally anti-scam or scam-neutral, although a few, because of careless wording, are pro-scam

Tweaks: These are minor changes to the ruleset that are almost always scam-neutral

Cleanups: These are minor changes such as spelling fixes and elimination of old references. While these are nominally anti-scam, their effect is so small that it is safe to consider them scam-neutral

Null: These are fluff proposals that have little or no real game effect. Examples include 4164(Order of the Fifteen Minutes) and 4168 (Nothing but Furniture). While the latter was actually a null proposal, the former was not, showing that Null, as I use it to describe a proposal, is not overtly related to nullity as defined by the rules of Ackanomic. Nearly all null proposals are scam-neutral

Repeals: These are usually scam-neutral, occasionally employed to snuff out scam, and often pro-scam because of carelessness. It is rare that a repeal eliminates all references to the repealed rules and entities; depending on what part of a rule structure remains, this can be meaningless bait for a Cleanup prop OR some very pro-scam leftovers.

Most other proposals add something new to the rules, but because these include concepts that are by definition unexplored in Acka, they are capable of being any of the three, and should be examined on a case basis.

Here, accompanied by explanations, are the proposals which I consider to be pro-scam, anti-scam, and scam-neutral, excluding the retracted proposals 4193, 4202, 4217, 4230, and 4252, and the nonexistent proposals 4240 and 4241. P designates a Pro-Scam proposal, A an Anti-Scam proposal, and N a Scam-Neutral proposal:

4153: P Defined war, opened the door for war scams (c.f. Phoebe's Wisdom, 7/17/99)
4154: P Created war with Agora, caused war scam potentiality (Ibid.)
4155: N Defined Unaming (Naming with numbering)
4156: N Party Chess/Institutions fix
4157: N Offices fix, cutting out dead wood
4158: N Rule-Harfer tweak
4159: N Sphere tweak
4160: N INTO fix
4161: N Mass repeal/Rules reset
4162: N Mass repeal of all but chess rules
4163: N Repeal of chess rules
4164: N Null: Order of Fifteen Minutes
4165: P Mass repeal, created multiple scams. Most infamously, the repeal of AFP helped along the war scam of P4153, and the loss of happiness led to the Ode to Joy scandal later on.
4166: N Otzma repeal
4167: N Mass repeal
4168: N Null: Furniture
4169: P a Random Proposal, left the door open for scammy props of the past.
4170: N Lit List tweak
4171: N Chemist Flea, new elements/compounds
4172: P Fuzzy Diktat, gave 3 players control over the ruleset
4173: P Treasury depletion, gave each voter A$3000
4174: N Sphere tweak
4175: N Sphere tweak
4176: N Speaker tweak
4178: P Declaration of War: Canada, helped various war scams
4179: N Crime fix
4180: N Null: Anti-Canada propaganda
4181: N Games repeal
4182: N Puzzle Piece cleanup
4183: N Speaker tweak
4184: N Web-Harfer tweak
4185: N Map-Harfer tweak
4186: P Defined Tyrant -- gave players an incentive to attempt to control Ackan votes.
4187: A Limited VC increases
4188: N Null: useless prop
4189: N Null: anti-vowel prop
4190: N Modesty repeal
4191: N Mass Repeal
4192: N Subcommittee tweak
4194: N SHF tweak
4195: N The Town
4196: N Games Repeal
4197: N Paradigm/APP cleanup
4198: N Ingesting
4199: A Limited Cheesium Creation
4200: P Pomp and Circumstance ASS song, generated the ASS token used in the Ode to Joy scam
4201: A Limited High VC abuse
4203: N Speaker fix
4204: P Cover Prop for Ode to Joy Scam
4205: P Cover Prop for Ode to Joy Scam
4206: P Cover Prop for Ode to Joy Scam
4207: P Linchpin for Ode to Joy Scam
4208: N Summarizer
4209: N Subgames repeal
4210: N Otzma repeal
4211: N Boredom tweak
4212: N Organization cleanup
4213: P Defined Tweaks, would have allowed rule changes as public actions, given enough camouflage
4214: N Path through the Wilds
4215: N Chess repeal
4216: N Math Troll and Chemicals
4218: P Polymerization, "prolly a scam waiting to happen" (3)
4219: N Codified pragmatism fix
4220: N Harfer protection tweak/fix
4221: N Colour tweak
4222: N Omnibus cleanup
4223: A Limited Conversions and fixed VC abuse
4224: A Ended the Ode to Joy Diktat
4225: A Made VC range smaller
4226: A Limited Treasury Funds
4227: N Observer tweak
4228: N Bacon tweak
4229: N Locations Fix
4231: A Limited Illuminatine creation
4232: N Omnibus cleanup
4233: N War tweak, would have eliminated the War Scam, but unintentional
4234: N True names repeal
4235: N Time zone tweak
4236: N Ackanomicon fix
4237: P Scoring change for voters and proposers, would have caused the next player to propose and vote on an accepted prop win the cycle
4238: N Crescent fix
4239: N Newspaper fix
4242: N OC repeal
4243: N Elements
4244: N Tower tweak
4245: P Caused 4246 to pass, would have generated an Ackanomic Unity Day
4246: N Omnibus fix
4247: N Proposal submission tweak
4248: N Rule cleanup
4249: N Null: mass rename
4250: N Viruses tweak
4251: N Crescent tweak
4253: N Supreme court cleanup
4254: N Null: shrubbery rule

Of these, the only scam-neutral proposals that fall in the last category are: 4155, 4171, 4195, 4198, 4208, 4214, 4216, 4243. All of these were proposals to add something new to the rules. 4155 defined a new type of naming, a profoundly unscammy addition to the rules. 4171 had potentiality for scamminess, as it provided an alternate way of generating puzzle pieces, but by that time, puzzle pieces were repealed, and later proposals further eliminated the possibilities for scam. 4195 defined the Town, but although miswording in the proposal left numerous holes in the rules, no players tried to take advantage of it before it was fixed. 4198 defined ingestion of chemicals, which, while scammy-seeming, was too limited and negative in orientation to allow for much in the way of scams. 4208 defined the new office of Summarizer, another very unscammy proposal. 4214 provided for the Road, which would have generated money at the expense of voting. Again, while this seemed somewhat scammy, there was no real advantage to be gained over anything but the long run, making this proposal difficult to accurately call a scam. 4216 defined the Evil Math Troll again, as well as a couple of new elements. There was little to no opportunity for scam therein. 4243 also defined new elements, and all nay-sayings on acka-research to the contrary, was totally harmless.

Thus, the proposals whose results will be examined in detail in this thesis are:

Pro-Scam: 4153(A), 4154(A), 4165(A), 4169(A), 4172(R), 4173(R), 4178(R), 4186(A), 4200(A), 4204-4207(R?), 4213(R), 4218(A), 4237(R), 4245(R) Anti-Scam: 4187(R), 4199(A), 4201(A), 4223-4226(A), 4231(A)

IV. Proposal Data

Proposals during period in question: 94 Total (100%): 17 Pro-Scam (18.1%): 7(41%) Accepted, 10(59%) Rejected 08 Anti-Scam (8.5%): 7(88%) Accepted, 1(13%) Rejected 69 Scam-Neutral (73.4%):

For each test subject, I now submit a line of data. The first number is the total number of proposals the subject submitted during Ackanomic quarter 14. The second number is the number of these that were pro-scam, and the third and fourth are this number represented as percentages of their total proposal activity and of the total pro-scam activity of the quarter. The fifth, sixth, and seventh serve the same function for anti-scam proposals.

PA 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
PB 3 0 0 0 0 0 0
PC 0 0 * 0 0 * 0
PD 1 0 0 0 1 100 13
PE 24 4 17 24 5 21 63
PF 10 1 10 6 0 0 0
PG 1 1 100 6 0 0 0
PH 4 1 25 6 0 0 0
PI 5 4 80 24 0 0 0
PJ 0 0 * 0 0 * 0
PJ 0 0 * 0 0 * 0

V. Voting Data

For the 94 proposals in the period in question, I have created the following table of data, which may be out of alignment in certain fonts due to tab characters. I have tried to make it as uniform as possible, and I apologize if anyone's mail-viewing programs render it difficult to read.

Note that for the purposes of computing the absolute average vote and the average mannna expenditure per proposal, I divide by the number of proposals voted upon. This means that these averages would be closer to zero in cases where the player in question abstained on any of the proposals in a group of proposals. Because there are many reasons for abstentions, I felt that including abstentions as a 0-vote in my analysis would cause an undue change in the statistics involved.

Key: High: The highest vote on any of the proposals in a group of proposals.
Low: The lowest vote on any of the proposals in a group of proposals.
Ave: The average vote on all the proposals in a group of proposals.
Abs: The average absolute value of the votes on all the proposals in a group of proposals
Tot: The number of proposals for which a vote was recorded
Man: The net change in Mannna due to the standard mannna costs and rewards:

"a) Players who cast a vote with an absolute value greater than 100 loose [sic] 100 less than the absolute value of their vote in Mannna. b) Players who cast a vote with an absolute value between 60 and 100, inclusive, gain 50 less half the absolute value of their vote, rounded down, in Mannna. c) Players who cast a vote with an absolute value less than 60 gain 20 Mannna."(4)

Ave Man: The average mannna change per proposal voted on
Total Ave: The average vote of all Ackanomic players' votes on a group of proposals
Total AbsAv: The average absolute value of all Ackanomic players' votes on a group of proposals
Tot Man: The total net mannna change in Ackanomic due to the standard mannna costs and rewards
Ave Man: The average mannna change per vote of all Ackanomic players' votes on a group of proposals

For all 94 proposals in the group:

High Low Ave Abs Tot Man Ave Man PA: 100 100 100 100 7 0 0 PB: 400 -400 8 78 93 -310 -4 PC: 400 -140 -8 85 63 180 2 PD: 120 -150 4 65 92 1145 12 PE: 300 -300 54 104 85 -2239 -27 PF: 300 -100 34 53 81 1200 14 PG: 200 -100 8 28 30 451 15 PH: 100 -300 5 77 26 156 6 PI: 200 -200 41 70 79 1018 12 PJ: 100 -100 12 48 68 1220 17 PK: 100 -115 -40 89 8 5 0 Total Ave: 22 Total AbsAv: 70 Tot Man: 6447 Ave Man: 5

For the 17 Pro-Scam proposals:

High Low Ave Abs Tot Man Ave Man PA: 100 100 100 100 1 0 0 PB: 400 -400 -26 130 17 -620 -37 PC: 200 -100 -15 88 12 20 1 PD: 120 -150 -63 80 15 30 2 PE: 300 -300 13 135 15 -720 -48 PF: 300 -60 27 78 14 20 1 PG: 7 -100 -25 28 6 100 16 PH: 60 60 60 60 4 80 20 PI: 160 -60 70 78 14 120 8 PJ: 60 -100 -35 69 10 120 12 PK: 100 -115 -70 102 6 -15 -3 Total Ave: 4 Total AbsAv: 87 Tot Man: -814 Ave Man: -5

For the 8 Anti-Scam proposals:

High Low Ave Abs Tot Man Ave Man PA: * * 0 0 0 0 0 PB: 100 -80 10 65 8 110 13 PC: 140 60 70 70 8 100 12 PD: 100 -100 37 62 8 120 15 PE: 300 -5 96 97 8 -142 -18 PF: 60 -60 1 32 8 160 20 PG: 6 4 5 5 2 40 20 PH: 60 -60 0 60 2 40 20 PI: 60 -121 -8 67 8 119 14 PJ: 100 -10 30 35 8 140 17 PK: * * 0 0 0 0 0 Total Ave: 31 Total AbsAv: 58 Tot Man: 1253 Ave Man: 12

VI. Sample Results

The questions I posed to my selection of Ackans were on the whole matters of public record. The questions that actually had to do with opinion were the following:

How many scams (approximately) have you participated in? If you have participated in scams, have you felt guilty afterwards? Do you consider yourself pro-scam or anti-scam?

On average, the 11 players who responded had participated in 4.35 scams each, in their average of 21.3 months in the game, making for a scam every 5 months, on average, for each player. However, the numbers involved varied from only a scam every 18 months to a scam every 2 months.

Only a few of the respondents had ever felt guilt for a scam, and the few who did explained it as applying only to "scams which have been un-counter scamable" or "Not about the scamming itself. About the strife and sometime hard feelings associated with the overall situation"(5).

Five of the respondents declared themselves unequivocally pro-scam, and two called themselves anti-scam. The other four indicated that it depended on the circumstances.

The pro-scam players as a group submitted a large percentage of the pro-scam proposals, but also generated anti-scam proposals. Further, not one of them voted higher than average on pro-scam proposals, lower than average on anti-scam, and higher than average absolutely on both. More than one voted less than average on the pro-scam proposals. On average, they participated in a scam about once every five months.

Only one of the two who declared themselves anti-scam truly lived up to the name, submitting anti-scam proposals, voting far below the average, but higher absolutely, to reject pro-scam proposals, and voting for anti-scam proposals more strongly as well as absolutely more strongly than average. The other actually submitted pro-scam proposals and voted slightly higher than average on the pro-scam proposals anti lower than average on the anti-scam proposals in the period in question. Also, both "anti-scam" players participated in more scams than average.

Some of the comments I received were pertinent to this thesis. I include only a few, for brevity's sake.

"Scams are one of the most fun things in nomic; both the thrill of finding some way to twist the intent of the rules, and the desperate scramble to counterscam someone else's attempt to do so."

"One of the important features of a scam is that all player should have the ability participate; either in the scam itself or in attempting to prevent the scam."

"The more attempts it takes to make a scam work, the less fun it is. A second try is tolerable, but three or more tries are just annoying." (5)

These statements highlight a key issue about scam in Ackanomic that I will discuss in the next section.

VII. Analysis and Conclusion

PA: 404 Not Found
PB: A German Dog
PC: Blest Lax Monk Pal
PD: /dev/joe
PE: K 2
PF: King Felix
PG: rufus
PH: Slakko
PI: Studge
PJ: ThinMan
PK: Vynd

First, a comparison of the questionnaire responses to the actual voting results reveals that self-image has very little to do with the actual truth. Both the players that called themselves 'pro-scam' and the players that called themselves 'anti-scam' were actually about half and half pro-scam and anti-scam, by the hard data of the proposal results. Of course, due to the small sample size, these results must be taken with a grain of salt.

Further, much of the data on pro-scam proposals could be construed as mildly to wildly inaccurate, because pro-scam proposals can be either stealthy or blatant. A good example of a blatant Pro-Scam prop is 4172, which allowed 3 players to collectively alter the rules. 4200, which indirectly gave a player an entity which was used in later scam, is an example of a stealthy Pro-Scam prop. In this set, 4169, 4172, 4173, 4186, 4204-4207, & 4218 are blatant and 4153, 4154, 4165, 4178, 4200, 4213, 4237, & 4245 are stealthy. Because of time considerations and to narrow my focus, I did not take stealth into account when computing my averages, and as a result, the data may not reflect others' opinions.

The indications of my data are very interesting. Players A, B, E, G, J, and K (more than half of my sample) voted in the same manner with regard to the average on all three proposal groups. These players are certifiably scam-neutral in their voting, at least to some degree. Player D was definitely anti-scam, changing both eir average vote and eir mannna expenditures to vote strongly on anti-scam proposals. Player C was also anti-scam, voting lower than average usually but more positively on anti-scam proposals. The extra mannna expended by this player indicates that this is not just a fluke in the data. Players F and I were the reverse of this, voting higher than average usually, but more negatively on anti-scam proposals. This might indicate that they are pro-scam, but because of the small absolute value of Player F's votes, it could just be a fluctuation due to sample size. Player H was somewhat pro-scam as well. Eir normal pattern of voting lower than average on most things, but with more mannna, but e voted higher than average on pro-scam proposals.

Thus, considering the voting actions of the 11 players in my sample, and allowing for standard deviation, I am led to believe that between 10% and 40% of Acka is pro-scam with regard to the rest of Acka, and between 5% and 30% are anti-scam. This means that the anti-scam players are more vehement in their beliefs, or at least express themselves with more mannna. Looking at pro-scam and anti-scam on an absolute scale turns out to be an unrewarding mish-mash.

Acka on the whole is mildly anti-scam. My results show, unsurprisingly, that pro-scam proposals are more controversial and polarizing, and anti-scam proposals less so. But a factor that gives me great hope is that our nomic is an accepting nomic, and even scams pass, on average. (In this sample, 7 or 8 pro-scam proposals passed, between 40% and 50%)

The quotes of questionnaire respondents in the last section show us something important about scam. While some of these statements were overtly anti-scam, or were submitted by anti-scam players, they all seemed to validate scam in various circumstances. Perhaps there is a scam etiquette, as one respondent suggested, that would make scams more enjoyable and tolerable to all.

In conclusion, I hope that these results will spark a greater understanding and acceptance of scam and pro-scam proposals. As evidenced by these figures, on average, Acka votes positively on pro-scam proposals, and even if it votes more positively on anti-scam proposals, this indicates that the prevailing mood in Acka is one of tolerance toward scam. Too many players view scam with bitterness and disgust; it is time to reexamine our views. Scamsters are players too, and they too have feelings. Their alternate playing style choices may not be your own, but you should be able and willing to respect their choices. They give Acka much-needed diversity and help make our nomic the 'harfy nomic.' The average Ackan opposes scam, and fights it with the resources at hand, but does not condemn it. My dream for the future is that all anti-scam players of Ackanomic are like this. It fosters the type of player relationships necessary to keep a nomic running smoothly, and generally leads to happier, more carefree lives.

(1) /dev/joe's thesis for a BA in treasure-hunting
(2) else...if's thesis for a BA in History
(3) P4218
(4) Rules of Ackanomic, Rule 2-1-2
(5) Scamology Survey Results

This thesis was accepted (10-2) and Emperor Ai! Pedrito! gained a BA in History.

This page was last updated on 29/8/99 at 19:22


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